Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Gruene, Texas

This historic town is part of New Braunfels. It is primarily a 19th century historic district. It was settled in 1845 by Ernst Gruen. At the time there was no land to be had in New Braunfels so Ernst bought land down river (Guadalupe River). His second son, Henry, built his home in the 1870s, and planted his surrounding land with cotton. The cotton business brought 20 to 30 more families to the area. In 1978 a mercantile store was built and a cotton gin powered by the Guadalupe was added soon after. We ate our supper in the old Gristmill River Restaurant, which used to be the old cotton gin. We had a table outside overlooking the river.
The town declined in the early 20th century because of boll weevil infestation of the cotton. In 1974-75, when much of the old Gruene was sold, new purchasers arrived and new businesses were established. All of Gruene was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.The old mercantile building is now a general store with everything, literally, from soup to nuts.
 After supper we felt that we should not leave town without spending some time in the old dance hall, the oldest in Texas. Gruene Hall was built in 1878, and, despite the many financial reversals of the town, it never closed. This is where Lyle Lovett, George Strait and Hal Ketchum got started.
At the hall we heard the singing of a popular Texas musician, Shelley King. She, along with her two cohorts, sang a variety of bluegrass, country and R&B. Thought we would stay only to hear a few songs, but enjoyed the music so much that we hung around longer than planned. And it was a good thing we did, had we left any sooner, we may have missed running into an old friend from St.Louis, John Loesel!  He was in the area to take bar examinations in San Antonio.

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